A conversation with Master Wu Wenhan
By Dave Barrett, Translated by Yang Jun
Dave Barrett: In America many people are unfamiliar with the Wu/Hao style of Taijiquan. I wanted to begin by asking you to describe the differences between Yang style and Wu/Hao style Taijiquan.
Wu Wenhan: Let me answer your question in two parts. First let me tell our why our style is called Wu/Hao. In the middle of the Qing dynasty in Hebei Province, Yongnian County, Guangfu town had two famous Taiji masters; one was Yang Luchan (1799-1873), and the other Wu Yuxiang (1813-1880). Let me tell you how Wu Yuxiang created his style. Master Wu’s family was in service to the government and Wu Yuxiang had placed highly in the Imperial examination. In the Wu family, the men were highly placed civil servants, almost like generals. At that time Yang Luchan returned from his studies with Chen Changxin. So Yang Luchan’s job was teaching Taijiquan in his hometown and he and Wu Yuxiang became good friends. At this time there was no special term for Taijiquan. The Chen style was referred to as Long Fist, in Yongnian County the termwas Cotton Fist or Sticking Fist. So after Master Wu Yuxiang learned from the Yang family, he went back to Wenxian County, Zhaobao town and found a master named Chen Qingping (1795-1868). During that time Wu Yuxiang’s brother, Wu Changxin found a book in a salt shop by Wang Zongyue called the Taiji Classics. So he gave this book to Wu Yuxiang and he brought it back to his hometown. From this point both Yang Luchan and Wu Yuxiang began to follow the theories in this book, also they brought their local culture and martial styles together. Actually, they also combined what they had learned from Chen Changxin and Chen Qinping, they combined many things together with the theory of Wang Zongyue to create a new martial art we now call Taijiquan. Later on Yang Luchan went to Beijing and began teaching and from this point Taijiquan began to spread out.
By Dave Barrett, translated by Master Yang Jun
Master Chen Zhenglei was born in 1949 into a family with over 300 years of martial arts tradition. He is widely recognized as one of the leading exponents of Chen Style Taijiquan in the world today. His Uncle, Chen Zhaopei (1893-1972), was his main instructor along with another Uncle: Chen Zhaokui (1928-1981), the son of Chen Fa-ke. Chen Zhaopei left his home village, Chenjiagou, in 1914 and established himself in Beijing as a martial arts instructor. The story goes that he set up a platform at one of Beijing’s main gates and for seventeen days accepted all challenges, either single or multiple, and was victorious in every fight. Displaying his deep skills and magnanimous character in victory made his reputation and for the next 30 years he taught in a variety of places across China. In 1958 he returned to Chenjiagou to find the old training halls abandoned and his relatives engaged in a struggle to survive a series of natural and political disasters that had devastated the surrounding farmlands and reduced the villagers to a pitiful state. Recognizing that the future of his family’s illustrious traditions hung in the balance, he moved back to Chenjiagou and began to revive the training regimens that had produced so many generations of excellent martial artists. Persevering through famines and political upheavals gradually the next generation began to emerge under his careful guidance. Out of this group of students came “The Four Tigers of Chenjiagou”: Chen Xiaowang, Wang Xian, Zhu Tiancai, and Chen Zhenglei; all of whom have gone on to revive and expand the prestige of Chen Style Taijiquan.
New affiliated school in Bógota Colombia, Jorge Alexander Gomez D Aleman.
New Certified Instructor THIERRY HUGUET.
New Academy Instructor Giulia Santangeli.
Symposium Newsletter #4 is available for your reading enjoyment. It features Wu/Hao style and GM Zhong Zhenshan.
Check the Download area for Symposium posters!
The new, spectacular, 100-page Digital Edition of our Association’s Journal is now available! It contains articles by each of the five grandmasters of the upcoming symposium.
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Brought to you by the Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan Foundation.
Congratulations to the following new
Paula Faro, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Valentina Marinai, Florence, Italy
Emilia De Giuli, Florence, Italy
Elaine Cooper, Troy, Michigan
and Edyta Piatkowska-Wu, Lyon, France
Cosimo Mancini, Milan, Italy
Tai Chi Ottawa, Laird A. Trimble, Ottawa, Canada.
Greg Miller and Jayne Miller, Dubuque, Iowa.
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We’ve translated Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan Essentials into Italian and Spanish. Download it from the Members-Only Area. Enjoy!
Congratulations to the following
New Affiliated School: Mike Shunney, Rockland ME
New Certified Instructors: Serge Coux, Paris, France; William DeSimone Manchester, NH